15:35 GMT04 August 2020
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    On Friday, Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), said he does not intend to resign, contradicting an announcement by Attorney General William Barr earlier in the day that Berman would be stepping down.

    Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, wants the Justice Department Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility, a DOJ entity tasked with investigating attorneys under its employ for professional misconduct, to begin an immediate probe into the apparent attempted firing of SDNY attorney Geoffrey Berman.

    “I am calling for the Department of Justice Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility to immediately launch an investigation into the reasons behind the decision by the president and the attorney general to attempt to dismiss Mr. Berman,” Schumer said Saturday, his remarks cited by The Hill.

    Calling the attempt to dismiss Berman a “brazen Trump-Barr scheme to interfere in investigations by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” Schumer compared the move to former President Richard Nixon’s effort to axe Archibald Cox, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate him, in 1973.

    Berman, appointed US attorney for the SDNY in January 2018, has overseen a number of cases, most notably the Jeffrey Epstein child sex trafficking ring investigation, and the US’s outlandish claims against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his associates over the alleged operation of a drug smuggling ring. In addition, Berman is also known to be investigating Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, in connection with potential illegal business dealings. Giuliani has been working on a probe of his own into the possible illegal actions of the Biden family in Ukraine, including the alleged sale of access to the Obama White House in exchange for a cushy, no show job for Hunter Biden at a Ukrainian energy company.

    On Friday, Attorney General William Barr announced Berman’s resignation, and said that President Trump would be nominating Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to the post. According to media reports, Berman had been offered the post of assistant attorney general, but refused it.

    Later in the day, however, Berman stressed that he had “no intention of resigning,” and that he would “step down” only “when a presidentialy appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.”

    Senior Republican South Carolina Senator and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham signaled Saturday that he would not move forward with nominating Clayton as Berman’s possible successor until he received approval to do so from Schumer or Kirsten Gillibrand, the other senator from the state of New York.

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